To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

Music & Entertainment

Beats: Part 1


Lesson time 14:22 min

The kick drum is the heartbeat of an electronic music track. Learn how Joel layers his kick drum samples to lay the groundwork for big, danceable grooves.

Teaches Electronic Music Production
6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.
Get Started


The basics of an EDM beat is having a kick on every quarter note and a snare and/or clap on every other quarter note and a high hat in between. That's basically it for EDM. But let's dive into that. The problem with EDM-- or the not problem with EDM, and maybe why it's done so well-- is it's really constrained to a group of rules, one being it's in the 126 to 130 range in terms of BPM, which locks you down to putting kick drums on every quarter note, which kind of makes sense. And then like on breaks, they might switch it up here and there and throw the one off an 8th early or late or something like that, which is just interesting little perks. But systematically, through the whole track, you just have the pulse-driven music kind of thing. That's what makes commercialized EDM what it is. And if you get too polyrhythmic with it, people can't get it. If you're getting all Trilok Gurtu on the shit, no one is going to be able to get locked into a groove. And it's no surprise. I think the masses are basically stupid, so you have to make stupid shit. And it does really well, because it's-- not stupid, I just mean it's common denominator stuff. Let's just say that. So if you just break it down to the core element of beats, bars, and measures, and groups of 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, then you're in sync with the world. And the world is in sync with you, and everyone can get it. And something for everyone is something that's going to do well on the open market. There's no such thing as a good kick and a bad kick sample. There's-- when it comes to creating kick drums, very specific-- you could synthesize them. You could use an actual sample of one that you ripped from another track or from some stock music library type thing or something like that. But there's really no bad kick sample that you can't reshape with a transient designer or an EQ sometimes, more cases than not, or just by layering different types of kicks and splitting frequencies across, meaning that you're going to high pass one of the kicks just to get the low end out of it, and then a whole different kick sample in the middle to get the mid-range and up, to get the top end of that kick. There's no shit audio signal unless it's white noise or something like that. But you can really shape any sound source to sound great with EQing effects, processing, compression. I sometimes do this, where I'll find something and I'll listen to a whole loop and say I like this one element out of a loop. [MELODY PLAYS] Like that high hat, or the kick, or something like that, and then go in and trim out the one element you like. So now I have-- just repeating that kick over a certain amount of time. [MELODY PLAYS] So there's a really thin-sounding kick, but to me, it sounds like it could be something that could be more top end. So I'll just call it top kick. What's up with my Caps Lock? Jeez. And meaning the top end is-- I'm go...

Make better music

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It was awesome, some good home truths and some awesome advice for using synths and just being better. I think that's my key takeaway from this - don't try and get by, try and be fucking awesome in every way and that should do it!

Viewing lessons, they are so effective that sticks in my head and I'm processing it with happiness, makes much more simple to understand. Thanks Joel!

Regardless of the skill level you come to this class, you're almost guaranteed to leave with some newly learned tip, trick, technique, or swear word!

The Deadmau5 masterclass has helped me get my foot on the ladder for music production. It's something I always wanted to do but had no clue on how to get started, so taking this class has done just that for me with great advice along the way.


Julian D.

to me, drum beats seem to be kinda like a flavoring. without them it's just a little bit plain, but too much sounds terrible.

A fellow student

Awesome advice on multilayering kick drums! Never occurred to me to do that before.


Funny observation or new drinking game? How many times does deadmau5 scratch his head in a lesson?

Jamie B.

Did Deadmau5 really name-drop Trilok Gurtu? Awesome! For those who don't know, Trilok is an amazing percussionist, drummer, and tabla player from India. An amazing percussive talent.

Kenneth S.

I like his overview of phase cancellation, it's one of those important parts in producing sound and getting it mastered, know to use and balance phase, clipping, etc.. and being aware of the quality of the sound. It's obviously more of a concern for EDM than a Jazz musician, but the basic apply across the board really.


I know Joel makes primarily house tracks, but DnB offers some really fun break patterns and possibilities. He sounds bored with drum programming in his genre.

Matt G.

Deadmou5' candor is hilarious: "If I had my way there'd be no drums, but people couldn't dance to it, DJs wouldn't play it, and there'd be no money, and I have to pay for all this sh*t."

Joshua T.

It's very funny making a very complicated song because, you invest so much time into tweaking everything about it to suit your liking. Then you don't get any feedback at all, which to me is annoying but, you make a song that is very simple that everyone gets it; then you're hot shit. I cannot believe how many people jump up & down to bad music! Pretty much if your beat is on point you're going to move a crowd.

Jimmy N.

Now they don't...great point and imho ...ultimately music is for you and no one else

Yosefu U.

Joel is hilarious. The mass is stupid, and you have to make stupid shit. So true! LOL